Skip to main content

If Only We Could Agree

... have you been accused of misspelling a word you know is correct...
usanne O’Leary wrote an interesting article on her experience with the variations of the English language in different countries. You know the obvious ones like colour with or without a “u” but less obvious ones like travelled versus traveled. Growing up in Sweden she learnt English in school—the UK variation. In publishing her books, she read reviews where she was criticized for improper spelling. False accusations as it turns out. While I write tire and cozy, it’s not incorrect to write tyre or cosy. Same language. Both accepted. Just different.
You can read her write-up here along with the numerous comments posted by readers. I found it interesting, but that’s me.
As a Canadian I deal with this issue everyday.
I feel her pain when she’s criticized for something based on ignorance. No fun. I was told by a boss that “data are” isn’t correct. It should be “data is.” Read most popular media and you’d think the word data is singular. Read scientific writings and you realize it’s plural. Few seem to know the word datum, the singular, exists. Such is the perils of being a writer. Use ‘data is’ and appear to be correct but piss off the few in the know or use ‘data are’ and get the reverse. It seems you can’t win except for: use another word.
I used the word media and the same applies. Media—medium. Stadia—stadium. And other Latin-derived words.
I write with Canadian English. It does exist. It’s a mix of UK & US variations with a sprinkling of unique Canadian idioms plus meanings to certain words that would confuse most non-Canadians. But even in Canada, there’s no consensus. Some don’t know. Some don’t care. You’re just as likely to see someone write about getting their driver’s license as they think about getting their pilot’s licence. Most don’t see the difference. The Globe & Mail has a style guide that is uniquely Canadian and it does have some effect on the words used in newspapers, but people are largely apathetic about it.
I use Microsoft Word. It was a feature I like. Set the language for spell check. My version has English (US), English (UK), English (Canada). I use the latter and it works for me.
I have a preference for using learnt and dreamt instead of learned and dreamed. Just me. Some oppose. But how can you predict who will react negatively? You can’t. I think the key is to be consistent. Unless you’re righting for affect. I mean, writing for effect.

P.S. Tack Susanne.
P.P.S Thanks Rags. I knew later should have been latter, meant to change it and managed in the rush to forget to do so. That's the nature of writing. It's fixed now.
Posted 2012/06/11 at 10h42ET in Writing, Words.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Very interesting, James. I love reading about how the 'other half' manage when it comes to reading 'mongralised' basic English. 'I use the later and it works for me.' Was that a deliberate Fox's Paw, James?
    Yes, very enlightening, thank you, James.

    Rags (What do I know, anyway) Daniels.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Cast of Characters from The Protectors

Friday, September 16, 2011 ... Cast of Characters from The Protectors... M ost novels do not include a list of characters, although I have read some with them. Tolstoy readers would likely appreciate it. Plays do. Scripts don’t. Not sure what the thinking is, but I didn’t include it with my novel. I had a feeling I’d be shot if I had suggested it, but with the internet, I can provide such a list and here is the list of the major players in my first novel The Protectors (A Thriller).
Black Carr Security Consultants Limited Baird Carr, Former CIA Officer, Co-founder, OwnerEmerson Black, Former Secret Service Agent, Co-founder, OwnerSarah Bishop, Former FBI Agent, Senior ConsultantDebra Paeytonne, Office AdministratorBeth, ReceptionistStephen Tedeschi, Former Secret Service Agent, ConsultantNigel, Independent Consultant
U.S. Secret Service Ken Milton, DirectorRichard Heyward, Retired AgentJulian Constance, Agent, Killed in Assassination AttemptTrisha Evrington, AgentTerry Flannon, Agen…

Day 5—Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Cage

Monday, November 21st, 2016 No work on the novel on Day 4. Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 18:31 Office ... if I use Leänne instead of Leanne how will people react... Y esterday was Sunday and I took it off, plus I was dealing with some mental health issues. I know this story is something that is simply a matter of putting in the time to make it happen. I’m supposed to be working on it as much as I can but I haven’t been doing that. Two main reasons. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a story. Then there’s the issues of my mental health. Things happen. I get down and it impacts on my writing. I might be using it as an excuse, but it’s clearly something I need to deal with. I have to find a schedule I can work with. Perhaps I need to put this first and cut out other things. Not sure but I will figure it out. A name for the hero came to me. For the moment going with Leanne or is it Leanna? Should be Le…

Writing a Novel–The Deep Blue Cage–Introduction

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 ... I fight my insecurities and doubts and I withdraw farther away from people and life ... I n November 2016 I started work on a new novel with the working title: The Deep Blue Cage. A few weeks after I started, I stopped. I was feeling too depressed about everything including the idea of writing a new novel. It happens to me at various times, with varying degrees, and it is debilitating. The ultimate issue was: Why bother? Why bother write another novel no one will read and no one will care about. I also found I was dreading the writing process more and more. It was painful to think about. I walked away and focused on other things. Or tried to. That didn’t work either. I felt trapped and unsure where I should head, what I should do. I even asked the big question, what the hell is life about anyway. There’s no one answer to this question despite the proclamations of some and because I believe I can think critically, can reason, I look at it from many a…